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Giver Culture or Taker Culture?

May 16, 2013

In a Harvard study of  US intelligence units, psychologists tried to determine what factors went into creating high-functioning teams.  The results were surprising and can be applied to businesses.  Teams with “giver cultures” outperformed other teams significantly.
In the McKinsey Quarterly report, Adam Grant wrote,

“They identified what they thought was a comprehensive list of factors that drive a unit’s effectiveness—only to discover, after parsing the data, that the most important factor wasn’t on their list. The critical factor wasn’t having stable team membership and the right number of people. It wasn’t having a vision that is clear, challenging, and meaningful. Nor was it well-defined roles and responsibilities; appropriate rewards, recognition, and resources; or strong leadership.”

The study found that in the best teams, the differentiating factor was how much help team members gave each other.
In most business teams, there’s a balance between give and take.  People give to those who will help them in return.
The article suggests that in the most high-performing teams, members actively seek opportunities to help, serve and support — without expecting anything in return.
Want to foster a giver-culture?  The author suggests several strategies:

  • Reward and recognize givers
  • Screen interviewees- hire giver personalities
  • Leaders should “walk the talk’

Terryberry’s Give a WOW program helps businesses foster a giver culture and easily spot the givers in their businesses.  Learn more at


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